What are ales and stouts?

Answered by Randall Whitlock

Ales and stouts are both styles of that fall under the broader category of “ales.” Ales are beers that are fermented at warmer temperatures using a top-fermenting , which gives them a distinct flavor profile. They are typically fermented for a shorter period of time compared to lagers, resulting in a quicker turnaround from to drinking.

Stouts, on the other hand, are a specific type of that are known for their dark, almost black appearance and rich, robust flavors. They are brewed with roasted malts, which give them their characteristic dark color and contribute to their intense flavors. Stouts often have a strong roasted or -like taste, which comes from the addition of unmalted roasted barley to the brewing process.

One of the most well-known and iconic stouts in the world is Guinness, which hails from Ireland. Guinness has a thick, creamy head that is a trademark of many stouts. This creamy texture is achieved through the use of nitrogen during the carbonation process, which creates smaller bubbles and a smoother mouthfeel.

Stouts can vary in terms of sweetness, bitterness, and content. Some stouts, known as sweet stouts or milk stouts, have a sweeter flavor profile due to the addition of lactose during brewing. This gives them a creamy and slightly sweet taste. Other stouts, such as imperial stouts, can have a higher alcohol content and a more intense flavor profile with notes of chocolate, licorice, or dark fruits.

Personal experience: As a sommelier and brewer, I have had the opportunity to taste and explore a wide range of ales and stouts. One memorable experience was visiting a local brewery that specialized in stouts. They had a variety of stouts on tap, each with its own unique flavor profile. From a rich and velvety chocolate to a bold and coffee stout, each beer offered a different experience for the taste buds. It was fascinating to see the creativity and craftsmanship that went into creating these complex and flavorful brews.

Ales and stouts are both styles of beer that fall under the category of ales. Ales are brewed with a top-fermenting yeast at warmer temperatures, resulting in a quicker fermentation process. Stouts are a specific type of ale that are known for their dark appearance and rich, robust flavors. They often have a bitter coffee taste and a thick, creamy head. Guinness is a prime example of a well-known stout.